Celebration of Asalha Puja and Vassa Entry (Rains Retreat) at IBC, 2020

Reported by: Ven. Saksith Sounthone
On 5th July 2020, the International Buddhist College (IBC) held the celebration of Asalha Puja and Vassa Entry ceremony, which are very important occasions for whole Buddhist communities. Asalha Puja was the first public sermon of the Buddha which took place at Deer Park, Benares, India. On this occasion, the Buddha presented the Four Noble Truths to the five ascetics, who soon after reached enlightenment and became the first Buddhist priests. It is also known as the Dhamma day. Besides that, Asalha puja coincides with the beginning of Vassa (Rains Retreat).
Vassa is one of the most significant occasions for Buddhists especially the Theravada tradition. During these three months, monks remain inside monasteries or temples, devoting their time to practice meditation and study Dhamma intensively. Because of this important day, the IBC family members harmoniously helped each other to make arrangements for the ceremony.
On this day, all IBC members like Sangha members, professors, teachers, students and staff were invited to participate in this celebration. We gathered at the big Pali Chanting hall and started the ceremony at 9:00 am. We began the ceremony by paying homage to the Triple Gem and chanted in Pali led by Venerable Anandajoti. After the Pali chanting, sister Usha requested for the five precepts and the person who gave the precepts was Venerable Ajanh Maha Narong. After that, all devotees offered requisites or Sangha Dana to the Sangha members. Venerable Anandajoti was then invited to give a dhamma talk on the significance of Asalha Puja and Vassa Entry. The dhamma talk was followed by Chinese chanting led by Venerable Zhen Cheng and Tibetan chanting led by Venerable Dolma.
After completing the chanting session, all participants transferred merits wishing all sentient beings to be happy and to be free from suffering. We also prayed for those who are suffering from COVID-19, wishing them a fast recovery from this evil virus. As usual, before finishing the event, we took a group photo. Finally, we ended the ceremony by paying homage to the Triple Gem. The MC also wished all IBC family members to be healthy and happy.